Jordan Henderson has promised there is more to come from him after his match-winning display against West Ham.
The 20-year-old has endured a difficult few weeks by his standards after winning his first senior England cap last month, the reward for a remarkable 18 months in his fledgling career.
Indeed, boss Steve Bruce hinted in the run-up to yesterday's game that the time might be right to give the Academy graduate a rest after an almost non-stop run in the first team since his emergence from the ranks.
However, that simply served to increase Henderson's resolve to double his efforts on the training pitch to catch the manager's eye, and both men received their rewards when the midfielder chose the perfect moment to score his first goal of the season and clinch a 1-0 victory.
Having avoided the chop, the youngster is now intent upon ensuring that Bruce no longer feels the need to give him a breather.
Henderson said: "There had been a little bit of talk that I might not have been playing and it made me a little bit disappointed, so I made sure in training it was clear I wanted to play and I wanted to go out and make sure I did things right.
"I have been disappointed in the last couple of weeks. I don't think I have played particularly well, so this week in training, I really
knuckled down and went back to basics.
"I just want to kick on from here and keep going."
Henderson's 34th-minute strike ended a long wait for a goal - his last came in a 4-3 defeat at Manchester City on December 19 last year - and also answered a regular plea from his manager.
It was not until the club's 13th Premier League game of the season at Chelsea last month than anyone other than Darren Bent or Asamoah Gyan in a Sunderland shirt scored, with Nedum Onuoha and Danny Welbeck both registering in a shock 3-0.
Henderson added his name to the list with a deft left-foot finish from Gyan's pinpoint cross, guiding the ball wide of keeper Robert Green.
He said: "It was great play by Asamoah. He spotted me and I managed to
take this one.
"I have scored one this season and hopefully there are a lot more to come."
The goal was just reward for a decent first half for the home side, but a resurgent West Ham pushed for an equaliser after the break, and came mightily close to getting it on two occasions.
Carlton Cole, who scored twice in the midweek Carling Cup demolition of Manchester United, went agonisingly wide with a shot across the face of goal four minutes after the break, and Victor Obinna grazed a post with 11 minutes remaining.
Welbeck could have wrapped up the win five minutes from time when, after Green had smothered substitute Steed Malbranque's effort, he pounced on the rebound, only for defender James Tomkins to make a last-ditch block, but his side had done enough.
The victory took the Black Cats into seventh place despite the absence of injured defenders Titus Bramble and Michael Turner to further strengthen Bruce's belief that the club is heading in the right direction.
He said: "We were in a similar position to where we are now last year.
The difference is we have got a bit of strength in depth.
"When I can put people on like (Bolo] Zenden and Malbranque, and play (John] Mensah and (Anton] Ferdinand, who haven't been involved, that just tells you what sort of progress we have made, I believe.
"You only get there by results, but I am very, very pleased with how we look, I am very, very pleased with the nucleus of the squad.
"There's a good nucleus of young players with a little bit of experience as well, so that pleases me."
The Hammers left Wearside still waiting for a first away win in the league since the opening day of last season, but with manager Avram Grant convinced it will come sooner rather than later.
He said: "I am sure we will win away games this season, that's for sure.
"First, it's good that we have played very well at home in the last two games because before that, we lost also points at home.
"We need to keep doing that and we need to pick up points away, and we will do it."